Retail Vitamins, Are There Serious Adverse Consequences?

I have been approached by many of my patients regarding the use of vitamin and mineral supplementation to compliment their active and demanding lifestyles.  Often times I find the response:  “Dr. Meimaris, I get my vitamins from GNC, Vitamin Shoppe (or even Shop Rite or Costco), why are your vitamins better??”  Simply, my response is always consistent.  There are no ways to control, no laws written in our state that govern the use and content of vitamin supplements.  Some companies are even strategically marketing their synthetic components of those supplements based on the allowances permitted by the FDA such as fillers and the like.  In my opinion, it’s buyer beware.

According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on October 17, 2011, taking a multivitamin my increase your risk of death. The study included more than 30,000 women over the age of 60. Have of these women took a multivitamin while the other half did not. The conclusion of this study was surprising.  Interestingly, the mortality rate for the group of woman taking a multi vitamin was higher than that of the group that did not take the multivitamin.

However, this is only the reported finding of this study. Whether or not the vitamins were the cause of the increased mortality rates cannot be confirmed since the health and lifestyles of the woman who took part in the study were not considered. Other studies have shown that higher levels of vitamins and nutrients in the blood lead to a longer life. Supplemental nutrition is, after all, the difference between life and death for millions of people. All this considered, this study does raise some interesting questions about how the body reacts to multivitamins:

Can the body really utilize chemical vitamins in isolated for? The answer is that the body does not utilize these “vitamins” very effectively at all. It has been measured that the body rapidly excretes over 95% of those isolated vitamins through urine and feces. This is the same was toxins are excreted from the body.

Can chemical vitamins induce nutritional imbalances due to their high dosages? The answer is yes. In the process of finding the counterparts they need in order to be absorbed by the body, chemical vitamins often scour the body and rob it of other nutrients. This can lead to nutritional imbalances, meaning that there is an excess of some nutrients and a deficiency of others. A nutritional imbalance can cause disease.

Lastly, can synthetic or chemical multivitamins increase your risk of death? Although it is possible, it seems very unlikely considering the toxicity level of chemical vitamins is low.  In any event, think twice about taking anything without consulting your doctor.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the author.

Dr. Demetri Meimaris,  31 Mercer Street, Suite 1A, Hackensack, New Jersey, 07601  (201) 487-3131

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